I ran across a story today celebrating the fact that the wind industry employs more people than the coal industry. In 2008, wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000, a 70% increase over the previous year. The coal industry has remained fairly constant, employing approximately 81,000 people. I am sure this statistic sounds fantastic for individuals who are enthusiastic about producing electricity through wind energy; however this data point speaks to me in a different way. It screams inefficiency when you consider the amount of electricity produced by each industry.
According to the government’s data, in 2007, coal generated electricity contributed to almost half of the electricity produced in our country. “Other Renewables,” which I assume is comprised of solar and wind generated electricity based on the graph, produced a mere 2.5%. I realize these are data points for two different years, however, even if we assumed electricity production from wind power increased by 70% as well that is still less than 5% of the total amount of electricity produced. No wonder the government must continue to subsidize this industry, because it would never survive otherwise.